It has been a decade since a leader from West Asia graced India's Republic Day with his presence—the last being Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud in 2006. Signalling a strengthening of relations between UAE and India, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, has agreed to be the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations next year.
Last year, in August, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the UAE—the first visit by an Indian prime minister in over three decades. This year, in February, Prince Mohamed, 55, came to India on a three-day visit. The deputy supreme commander of the UAE Armed Forces, he is the brother of UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Here's a look at some facts about the crown prince:
- His full name is Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed bin Sultan bin Zayed bin Khalifa bin Shakhbout bin Theyab bin Issa bin Nahyan bin Falah bin Yas.
- Prince Mohamed joined the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst at 18, where he underwent military training, including helicopter flying and tactical flying.
- He loves hunting and falconry—the sport of hunting small animals and birds using falcons—and poetry.
- He is married to Sheikha Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan and has four sons and five daughters.
- The WHO hailed the UAE's Pakistan Assistance Programme—an initiative of the crown prince—to help Pakistan eradicate polio.
- He set up the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund to preserve and protect endangered species and plants. In fact, a wood lizard was named after him--Enyalioides binzayedi—since it was discovered in a national park in Peru through a survey sponsored by the conservation fund.